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A Family Affair

Our family has gone through receiving a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes over and over and over and over – four times, to be exact.  In 1997, our middle child was four when he was diagnosed.  It was a shock since no one else in the family had ever had type 1.   At that time, the rest of us were tested for antibodies, and both my oldest child and I were positive for a single antibody.  My husband and our 1-year-old son were off the hook.

We were screened for the DPT (Diabetes Prevention Trial), and both children who weren’t diabetic yet also participated in the DAISY study every year.  We wanted to give back by participating in research.  Our child with diabetes was in the Glucowatch trail. Then, in 2005, our oldest child developed diabetes at age 14 and went on an insulin pump almost from day one.  In 2008, our youngest son developed diabetes, too, at age 12.  I am thankful that neither had ketones nor was hospitalized at diagnosis because they were monitored so closely, and their diabetes was caught early.

It became just a different way of life for our family.  At least no one felt alone in their diagnosis.  At Thanksgiving each year, we developed the habit of toasting Banting, Best, Collip, and McLeod for their contributions to the discovery and development of insulin.  Without them, my husband and I would have been seated at the table alone mourning the loss of our three children.

Fast forward to 2016, and my A1C had begun to rise.  I had had very high GAD antibodies for almost 20 years by then.  Despite being in my early 60s, I was finally developing diabetes, too.  I started on insulin shortly after that.  Now, we joke that Dad feels left out, and when we are together and something starts beeping, it’s hard to be sure whose pump or CGM is alarming.   The technology has made such a difference over the past two decades though.

Diabetes is a family affair for us, and we are all grateful for the research that has continued to make life with diabetes more and more manageable, and of course, we are grateful to have had our lives extended.

Harriet Austin

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